Leading from behind

Where does one find an example of compelling leadership & vision? Here’s one:


We invite readers to compare & contrast with items you ‘ve received from Hamilton.

Posted on March 30, 2014 at 07:54PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

ACTA's new publication

ACTA’s new publication, Education or Reputation? A Look at America’s Top-Ranked Liberal Arts Colleges, is very much worth a read.

Hamilton College appears in several catagories of analysis.

Posted on March 17, 2014 at 01:04PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

That didn't take long

Our thoughts on the divestment proposal were simple. The process was healthy and illuminating. We hoped that the trustees (specifically the investment committee) as fiduciaries would address the issue, make a decision, and justify it.

Well, they did and promptly so, such that one suspects this one must have been on the shelf, ready to go. You may find it here: March 11, 2014, ltr Chair Investment Committee .

It is a well-crafted, sensible response  which we support, and it is excerpted below.

The whole process here is laden with information. The degree of politicization of the campus is self evident. We are informed by the Spectator of the “unanimous” voice vote by the faculty in favor of the resolution and presume that the maybe three or so dissenting voices either didn’t bother to attend or perhaps their voices were somehow not heard or recorded.

Those interested in quality of governance, administration & education at Hamilton might wonder how is it that the faculty went all-in on a proposition that was rejected promptly by the Board? A virtually unanimous vote by the faculty contains significant information as to the composition of the faculty and the process by which it has evolved over time. This was not a 60% v 40% vote. It was ~99.99%.  Why does Hamilton have a monolithic faculty void of debate? Does this evidence selection bias?

It is also notable that the Hamilton faculty seems to be completely & unanimously disassociated from the views, professional obligations & rationale of the board on this issue… or outright rejects them. This is a notably odd outcome given the seriousness of the issue, the nature of the fiduciary duties involved, and the esteemed professional qualifications of the trustees. We leave to others to speculate as to the cause and meaning of this phenomena.

The big question for Hamilton requires reference to the last sentence of the excerpt above. Substitute “curriculum” for “endowment”.  Look at the curriculum, the programming, and more importantly the personnel. Look at the vote.

Has Hamilton had over the last many years a de facto political and academic “divestment” program in place?



Posted on March 12, 2014 at 11:21AM by Registered Commenterhb | Comments1 Comment

By Hamilton Divests

At Tuesday’s faculty meeting, Hamilton Divests received unanimous support for the following resolution on fossil fuel divestment. Below is a resolution letter to the Hamilton College community outlining specific requests for divestment….

We define fiduciary responsibility in the following way: not incurring unnecessary or unacceptable losses to the endowment, and not investing in portfolios or holdings with lower return rates than acceptable, not breaking any contracts; thus, not putting Hamilton’s future at unnecessary financial risk….

We define fiduciary responsibility in the following way: not incurring unnecessary or unacceptable losses to the endowment, and not investing in portfolios or holdings with lower return rates than acceptable, not breaking any contracts; thus, not putting Hamilton’s future at unnecessary financial risk….

See the article

The petition holds value in two forms 

  • res ipsa loquitur and
  • hopefully, the trustees (specifically the investment committee) as fiduciaries will have to address the issue, make a decision, and justify it.

The process is healthy and will be illuminating. It certainly provides information as to the degree of politicization of the campus.

Donors, alumni and parents take note. 

Posted on March 9, 2014 at 08:41AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Remember Ward Churchill?

Well, no one is, at least now. No one cares.
Evidently, our boy Ward doesn’t understand that he is the classic example of what going ‘viral’ means. Rather, he prefers the consipiracy driven view which is understandable as it might be preferable from his perspective to the massive adverse judgement which was rendered by the American public.
Frankly, hcagr is a bit disappointed that we / the alumni of Hamilton got short shrift in that effort, that we didn’t make the list. From the idiotic article:
The “discovery” of my by then four-year-old “little Eichmanns” piece in January 2005 has been consistently misattributed to a student editor at Hamilton College, where I was scheduled to give a talk in February. Actually, the information was fed to him by a poly sci professor named Ted Eismeier, who was a member of the National Association of Scholars and heavily involved in a rather vicious ACTA-sponsored campaign to seize control of the board of trustees and expunge the school’s supposed “leftwing bias.” There was an obvious utility to making the Eichmann piece an issue at the local level, but the idea that it might be transformed into something much more was just as obviously in play right from the start.
I mean, let’s get real about this. That the author of an op-ed appearing in an obscure e-journal several years earlier has been invited to speak at a small college in upstate New York isn’t ordinarily the stuff of national news, no matter what was said in the op-ed, much less the trigger for what’s usually been described as a “media firestorm.” In this instance, the “story” went from its first appearance in a campus newspaper to saturation coverage at the national level in roughly 72 hours
Posted on February 18, 2014 at 10:59AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Hamilton's announcement: no mention of sponsorship by Alexander Hamilton Institute or that speaker is AHI founding Director

A reader would not know that the AHI sponsored the event or that Si Bunting is, of course, a founding Director of the Alexander Hamilton Institute. Here’s the original link, and you have to log on.



War and Post-War American Leaders Subject of Lecture

Contact Holly Foster 315-859-4068
Posted November 8, 2013
Tags Lectures

Major General (Ret.) and author Josiah Bunting III will give a lecture titled “American Leaders, War and Post-War, 1940-1950: A Legacy of Lessons Ignored,” on Monday, Nov. 11, at 7:30 p.m., in the Kennedy Auditorium, Taylor Science Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Bunting graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1963. He then studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and at Columbia University as a John Burgess Fellow. During active duty with the United States Army, he served as an infantry officer in Vietnam with the Ninth Infantry Division. During his military career Bunting received the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Honor Medal—2nd class, Presidential Unit Citation, Parachute Badge, Combat Infantry Badge, and Ranger Tab.

Subsequently, he taught history at West Point and at the Naval War College. His administrative experience in higher education includes president, Briarcliff College (1973-1977); president, Hampden-Sydney College (1977-1987); and superintendent, VMI (1995-2003).

Bunting has recently been elected as chairman of The English-Speaking Union of the United States. He also serves as chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Wilmington, Del.—an enterprise committed to the reestablishment of the regular study of the staple subjects of liberal education in American universities and colleges.

Posted on November 10, 2013 at 03:22PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Performance risk, donor intent & controls in philanthropy

We note the announcement, linked & excerpted below. The academy in general does not have an enviable record with respect to donor intent & control. One need only look to the the Robertson litigation with Princeton or the opacity and apparent loose management of the Kirkland Endowment to understand the question as valid.
We have it on good authority that Prof. Ellis fundamentally disagreed with efforts to politicize the campus (more strongly worded by our source), and yet, here we are presented with outcomes that appear completely contrary to that sentiment.
Here we see the dangers of agency risk in unrestricted or loosely constrained philanthropy: performance risk is real.
One alumni commented bluntly “What better illustration of the danger of bequests left by an estate.”  Our take is that if you give, you’d better make it restricted to specific, well documented intent and build in a mechanic to monitor the specific intent and outcomes. Better yet, find a structure that provides for ongoing external management to see that your intent is followed. The notion of a Trust Protector comes to mind but we defer to learned counsel.

Hamilton College has received $1.6 million from the estate of renowned New York State historian and Hamilton alumnus David Ellis and his wife Carolyn, which will support an endowed chair in their name.
The Ellis Distinguished Teaching Professorship will be awarded on a rotating basis to a faculty member who has achieved distinction through scholarship and teaching, and who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the professional development of fellow faculty members and to the intellectual development of students. Dean of Faculty Patrick Reynolds named longtime Professor of Comparative Literature Peter Rabinowitz to be the inaugural recipient of the Carolyn C. and David M. Ellis ’38 Chair.
Posted on November 7, 2013 at 11:25AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

The Sorry State of Hamilton College

 by Robert Paquette

On the evening of 19 September, about two weeks before the scheduled appearance of Hillary Rodham Clinton as a “Great Names” speaker at Hamilton College, members of the Hamilton College community received an all-campus email from Amit Taneja, head of Hamilton’s Days-Massolo Center. Mr. Taneja, who had been recently elevated to the position “Director of Diversity & Inclusion” by President Joan Hinde Stewart, had designed a provocative, multi-staged event that would begin on September 26 with an assemblage, “open to people of color only” so as to provide a needed “safe space” for “dialogue” on “internalized racism.”
Mr. Taneja came to Hamilton College by way of India and is a citizen of Canada.  In 2007, he published an essay entitled “From Oppressor to Activist: Reflections of a Feminist Journey.”  In it Mr. Taneja speaks loudly and clearly about himself and his politics.  He identifies as a gay activist and sees oppression everywhere in the United States, although, he admits, because he “was born with a penis” he still has “[a] lot of power.”  Sounding very much like any number of left-wing educrats who, having swilled the same Kool-Aid, now populate almost every college campus in the country, Mr. Taneja pronounced that corporate types, apparently just like those who while sitting on the Hamilton College board of trustees decided to enshrine him as head of the Days-Massolo Center, had done “little to make us examine our assumptions and merely gives us license to continue to exercise our power while maintaining a superficial front of understanding and tolerance. True social justice work starts with grassroots activism and extends in scope from local to national to global.”
In the essay, Mr. Taneja’s peroration demanded social-justice activists to undertake a kind of grassroots immediatism to remake the world in the constructivist image Mr. Taneja rather vaguely outlined for us. Although the two trustee namesakes of the Days-Massolo Center assured the world years before its headquarters was opened in 2011 that the lavishly funded center would devote itself to a wide array of programming related to “cultural education,” the events sponsored by Mr. Taneja and his many allies on the faculty and the administration have predictably navigated a rather consistent course to the left and far left.  It’s as if no culture anywhere around the globe has any conservative representatives worthy of educating the Hamilton College community about culture. Lest there be any doubt, almost every member of Hamilton’s trustees had ample information about Mr. Taneja’s political commitments before he was elevated to the position of Director, Diversity & Inclusion; they cannot hide under their desks and claim ignorance of the very serious educational issues at play here.
One undergraduate, a senior history major named Dean Ball, surfaced to express concern about Mr. Taneja’s segregated event.  He did not dispute the importance of intensive campus conversations on racism, but had problems with the fashionable campus idea of “safe zones” or “safe spaces” to be used in excluding certain campus citizens according to arbitrary and undefined criteria like “persons of color.” Mr. Ball, co-leader of a campus organization affiliated with my independent Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI), acted on his own.  He went directly to Mr. Taneja to express his concerns as a student leader, about the organization of the event.  Mr. Taneja brushed off Mr. Ball, saying that his opinion reflected that of “a minority.”  As Mr. Ball pointed out subsequently, Mr. Taneja’s response raised questions as to whether Taneja, and by implication Hamilton’s administration and trustees, pay attention to their own words, for the Days-Massolo Center was supposedly created “to support minorities of every variety on this campus,” not just those whose politics are largely congruent with Mr. Taneja’s own.
Having failed to get Mr. Taneja to alter course, Mr. Ball acted with several other students to express their concerns publicly. On 22 September, Mr. Ball, as leader of the AHI’s Undergraduate Fellows Program, sent out an all-campus email announcing that the AHI would sponsor an alternative dialogue on campus. The conversation would be held on campus, Mr. Ball announced, and, he added, it would not be “in a safe zone.” 
For years, the AHI, ever since its founding in 2007, has been billing itself as an unsafe zone to indicate that students (and adults) who come to partake of AHI programming will not be patronized and spoon-fed cheap sentiment but rather forced to defend their positions by adducing evidence and argument. The term was coined by a now retired Hamilton professor, allied to the AHI, who had had a bellyful of political posturing from a former dean, Joseph Urgo, the recently cashiered president of St. Mary’s College in Maryland, who had openly endorsed the idea of “safe spaces” on campus for students in various groups organized by the activist left.  By not clearly defining what he meant by “unsafe zone” in his all-campus communication, Mr. Ball came immediately under harsh fire.  He responded quickly in another all-campus communication to explain what “unsafe zone” meant:  “We would also like to clarify that a ‘safe zone’ in which segregation is enforced is not a safe zone at all. Our school has a proud tradition of preparing students to succeed in the highest levels of politics, business or whatever field they choose. These arenas are not ‘safe spaces.’ An important part of any good education is learning how to articulate a position and defend it against substantive challenges. It is a difficult skill, and no one learns to master it in the confines of a safe zone.”  Too late.  Mr. Taneja’s angry supporters had mobilized and were unwilling to listen.
The segregated event elicited some national media attention. For reasons never made public by Hamilton’s administration but perhaps related to the approaching visit of Hillary Clinton, who might have been plunged in roiling waters, the Days-Massolo event was cancelled.  Mr. Ball, however, came under verbal attack, with words that included anonymous death threats. To the best of my knowledge, and I asked Mr. Ball point blank on this question, not one Hamilton administrator bothered to make an inquiry into his well-being knowing full well that he was under considerable duress.
At a student assembly meeting of 23 September, Mr. Ball, in an extraordinary act of courage, sat on an island facing an aggregation of dozens of angry students, with Mr. Taneja there to direct the chorus, to explain himself to persons who had no desire to listen.  Mr. Ball apologized if he had been misunderstood.  “Almost every comment made by [these assembled] students,” wrote Mr. Ball, “either implicitly or explicitly attacked my character”  Mr. Taneja’s supporters, calling themselves “the Movement,” then proceeded to decorate the campus with various signs and slogans declaring Hamilton to be a place full of racial bigotry.
In the midst of the excitement, President Joan Hinde Stewart decided to call for an all-campus forum to air views on the subjects of race and racism and on Mr. Taneja’s preempted segregated event.  President Stewart, as a scholar of eighteenth-century French literature, began by asking the assembled throng to remember that they were children of the Enlightenment and that as such their “mission was to challenge ignorance.”  Perhaps if there were more intellectual diversity at Hamilton, someone might have asked President Stewart which Enlightenment she had in mind since it was precisely the excesses of eighteenth-century French rationalism and its hubris in trying to “transform the world,” as she put it, that decisively contributed to the modern idea of race and the virulent form of racism she detests. Myself, I prefer the Scottish Enlightenment to the French.  No matter. The event allowed Mr. Taneja to explain himself and to show everyone that faculty and administration backed him to the hilt.
As the controversy died down, debate continued in the pages of the campus newspaper.  Mr. Ball wrote a thoughtful letter explaining his actions.  To the Hamilton community, one alumnus—I repeat, one alumnus—published “a plea” that was critical of Mr. Taneja.  The recent graduate who identified himself as a gay Hispanic male pointed out that the recent controversy was nothing new at Hamilton College.  He openly asked:  If the center as conceived by Drew Days and Arthur Massolo were meant to be a cultural education center and not a cultural indoctrination center, why then was someone of Mr. Taneja’s radical political stripe appointed to lead it?  “From the beginning,” the alumnus argued, “the Days-Massolo center should have been run not by someone who is a militant activist with an ax to grind, but by someone genuinely dedicated to the whole community.  Not someone who is focused just on the grievances of the marginalized, but who genuinely seeks to incorporate them, and foster love throughout Hamilton College.”
The majority of Hamilton’s faculty, however, disagreed, and quickly so.  In a remarkable rejoinder, a “Letter of support for Amit Taneja and the Days-Massolo Center,” published in the campus newspaper a week later with more than ninety signatures at the bottom, Hamilton faculty accused the recent graduate of “maligning” Mr. Taneja in the context of pronouncing their undying love for everything he has done and intends to do.  Mr. Taneja, the letter declares (even though the evidence is clear that he has never once brought a conservative speaker to his cultural education center), “has been executing his job in a thoughtful and responsible way.”
Below is my response to the faculty’s paean to Mr. Taneja and the Days- Massolo Center:
In the 10 October issue, more than ninety members of Hamilton’s faculty signed a letter giving “full support” to the way Amit Taneja in his dual roles as head of the Days-Massolo Center and Director, Diversity & Inclusion, has been engaging members of the Hamilton community in “difficult conversations.”  Such a burst of applause recalls the heady days in 2006 when a similar number of faculty, many of them signatories to this letter, voted 77 to 17 against the creation on campus of what was then called the Alexander Hamilton Center, citing concerns about how it would adversely “influence the reputation of Hamilton College.”  The majority’s concern about Hamilton’s reputation at that moment followed shortly after its ringing endorsement of the on-campus presence of the felon Susan Rosenberg and of the fraud Ward Churchill.
Assuming that the signatories are doing more than breast-beating, one wonders precisely whom they are trying to reach.  President Stewart and key members of the board have not backtracked in their support of Mr. Taneja.  Indeed, they have defended him.  They have had on hand, after all, ample knowledge of his identity, politics, and commitments from, if nothing else, a serious, quasi-autobiographical essay he published in 2007.  He was elevated to Director, Diversity & Inclusion, not despite this essay but, in part, because of it.
Was this impressive mobilization of support really meant to defend Mr. Taneja against one letter published by a recent alumnus two years out of the chute? Or was it meant to fire a warning shot across the bow of unnamed others, showing in effect who owns the campus?  Intentionally or not, the faculty letter sends a forceful message to undergraduates.  It resonates with intimidation.  Remarkably, the letter shows not a whit of concern for the kind of abuse and threats that Dean Ball suffered as a result of his surfacing to criticize what Mr. Taneja was doing.  Despite the unattributed quote from Mr. Ball at the letter’s end, its tone is “God forbid we have any more like him.”  The intention seems less to promote difficult conversations than to chill them.  Many, if not most, of Hamilton’s right-of-center students already practice in the classroom a degree of self-censorship that responsible leadership should, at the very least, find disconcerting.
One cannot have difficult conversations on this campus—and the evidence on this is incontrovertible— if a range of alternative views opposed to those of the majority faction is systematically excluded to the point of near extinction. Faculty activists of the left wanted in 2006 to keep the campus their sandbox and with the help of certain trustees, succeeded in doing so. Along those lines, I note that students involved in Hamilton Divests had the door opened for them at the recent trustee meeting to speak at length to the investment committee. A few years before, the student group known as the Social Justice Initiative, a driving force behind the creation of Days-Massolo, was allowed to present their views to a specially formed sub-committee of the board.  But when a group of gifted right-of-center students and recent alums, many of whom were getting advanced degrees at prestigious law schools and graduate programs, courteously sought a meeting, a conference call, a tiny drop of time from the much ballyhooed A.G. Lafley, he brushed them off with one vapid sentence.  (Trust me:  I won’t be buying a box of Tide in the near future.)
On the matter of intellectual diversity, by the way, I throw down the gauntlet to anyone willing to compare the AHI’s commitment to that of Days-Massolo, the Diversity and Social Justice Project, or any other analogous group on campus.  The AHI has a gallery room with a framed poster of almost every event we have sponsored across the country since 2007.  I invite visitors to come for a guided tour.
Peter Cannavo, whom I know to be a sincere man, calls for reflection, not calumny.  But he knows better than most that numerous signatories to the faculty letter dump bucket after bucket of smears on the AHI in front of their students, including advisees.  It even gets comical at times, as in the case in the fall, 2012, when a government professor tried to discourage one of his students from attending a major panel discussion at the AHI by heaping abuse on it, not knowing that the student’s own father was on the panel.
I must also confess to a bit of confusion caused by the letter on the mission of Days-Massolo since I know something of its history and of the principals involved in its creation.  Days-Massolo flourished on the ash heap of the on-campus Alexander Hamilton Center and was marketed initially, at least until approval by the board, as a “cultural education center.” Are there no Catholic leaders in Africa?  No conservative Jewish intellectuals?  No champions of capitalism in Asia? Or are they excluded from what Hamilton’s leadership considers a proper cultural education?  Let it be said that many foreign students attending Hamilton have conservative sensibilities and come from far more rigorous high schools than those that exist in most places in the United States.  Some have told me that they find the programming of Days-Massolo clearly politicized, presumptive, and even patronizing.
From the beginning, a few members of the board worried that such a lavishly-funded center under a certain kind of leadership would “silo” students into a narrow range of politically preferred identities. Hence in a 2010 Class-and-Charter- Day address, trustee Arthur Massolo assured the world that the proposed CEC would do no such thing.  In a communication to me of 17 January 2011, he iterated, “I will do all in my power to see that the center becomes a platform for the airing of differing positions and ideas and not another silo.”  Yeah, right.
Source: reproduced in whole from The Sorry State of Hamilton College in reliance on ex post facto permission from the author
We also note the Spectator, the student newspaper of Hamilton College declined to publish Prof. Paquette’s letter. Go figure.
Posted on October 25, 2013 at 08:55AM by Registered Commenterhb | Comments1 Comment

res ipsa loquitur

As in the Spectator Letter of support for Amit Taneja and the Days-Massolo Center:

“Mr. Taneja has been executing his job in a thoughtful and responsible way, living up to the mission of the Days-Massolo Center…”

As in the advertizing of the event in question:

“In order to create a safe space, this program is open to people of color only.”


res ipsa loquitur

Posted on October 11, 2013 at 04:27PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

It never stops

Unfortunately, today Hamilton College finds itself on the Drudge Report which links to a story from Campus Reform:

College to host orgasm workshop for female undergrads


Presented without comment.


Posted on September 26, 2013 at 08:06AM by Registered Commenterhb | Comments1 Comment

Hamilton College student: Why I stood up against segregated diversity program

Posted on September 25, 2013 at 11:08AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

What is the tone at the top?

First we have Hamilton College segregating its programs by race:

“In order to create a safe space, this program is open to people of color only.”

Then, upon further reflection no doubt induced by the advent of broader distribution of the facts in the media since the initial announcement, we have an abrupt reversal:

Dear Hamilton Community Members:

Over the weekend, I have had a range of reactions to my invitation to the Real Talk Dialogue series – an idea that emerged from discussions with students. The goal was to facilitate dialogue across and within racial groups through a three-part series of incremental conversations. My intent was to be inclusive but my phrasing suggested otherwise. I think it is a good idea now to pause and reflect on how we structure conversations about race. As a result, I invite all interested members of the community to come to a re-envisioned dialogue this Thursday at 4:15 p.m. to address two central questions: What does a meaningful dialogue about race look like? How can we best structure such a dialogue? Together we can figure out how to proceed in ways that make clear the inclusiveness of our community and our collective commitment to equity, understanding and mutual respect.


Amit Taneja
Director, Diversity & Inclusion

source: http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/09/hamilton-college-cancels-racially-segregated-diversity-program/


On a good day one might “warmly” expect institutions of higher learning to think before they act, but this doesn’t seem to be Hamilton’s custom. That may be harsh, but less so than the conclusion that thinking was not on the agenda here. 

The facts are plain, and it is just another manifestation of a political agenda which is endorsed and promoted by the administration.

From a governance perspective it is clear there is a cultural problem at the school. The administration is unwilling to recognize or incapable of recognizing the damage, once again, to the reputation of the school. One hopes that at some point the trustees must be concerned about the upwards drift of that reputational risk.

It is called tone at the top.


Posted on September 23, 2013 at 09:59AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Real Talk: A Dialogue about Internalized Racism

This little gem just caught our eye and is presented in whole without comment:


Real Talk: A Dialogue about Internalized Racism

Location Bristol Center 204/208 Dwight Lounge
Event Type Conference
Event Title Real Talk: A Dialogue about Internalized Racism
Submitter Name Turvey, Janet
Submitter Phone 315-859-4288


Conversations about race in the U.S. mostly focus on race relations between white communities and people of color. However, people of color are also prone top internalize racist messages about their own community, and about other races/ethnicities/people of color. This conversation allows people of color to come together and examine how we may have accepted racist attitudes toward other racial groups and our own racial/ethnic communities, and move towards healing and mutual respect. In order to create a safe space, this program is open to people of color only. A similar conversation for white students, faculty and staff is planned for the spring semester. Dinner will be provided. Please contact Amit Taneja for more information. [email@hamilton.edu omitted, emphasis added - ed]



Posted on September 20, 2013 at 11:48AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

As Education Declines, So Does Civic Culture

Jonathan Jacobs in today’s WSJ provides insight to the structure of the problem. The consequences of an absence of a core curriculum and the politicization of the classroom:
Even after three or four years of undergraduate education, many students still cannot recognize reasoning when they encounter it. They have little grasp of the difference between merely “saying something” and constructing an explanation or formulating an argument. This is often reinforced by college instructors who urge students to regard all theories, intellectual perspectives and views as ideology—without acknowledging the differences between theories, beliefs, hypotheses, interpretations and other categories of thought.

This impedes students from acquiring habits of intellectual responsibility. Far too often, teachers and texts insist upon a “verdictive” approach, a politicized view of issues. Whatever your stance regarding the “culture wars” and the politics of higher education, it is undeniable that a great many graduating students have little idea of what genuine intellectual exploration involves. Too often, learning to think is replaced by ideological scorekeeping, and the use of adjectives replaces the use of arguments….
To see the effect of these trends, simply ask a few 15-year-olds, 19-year-olds or 22-year-olds some basic, non-tricky questions from non-esoteric knowledge categories (history, biology, current events, literature, geography, mathematics, grammar). See what the responses are. Ask these young people to describe the basic institutions of American government, or how a case makes its way to the Supreme Court or what “habeas corpus” means. The point isn’t to embarrass them, but to wake up the rest of us to how little students have been expected to know even about the political and legal order in which they live.
Buyer beware.
Posted on September 17, 2013 at 08:29AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Hamilton College makes the WSJ... again

We didn’t know quite what to do with this story

Police: NY college partiers ‘took over’ village

CLINTON, N.Y. — Officials at a central New York college say they’re looking into a police chief’s claims that hundreds of rowdy students “took over” the village during off-campus parties that spilled onto neighboring properties.

The Observer-Dispatch of Utica reports (http://bit.ly/17TpL7C ) Town of Kirkland Police Chief Dan English told a town board meeting Monday night that about 300 Hamilton College students became unruly while partying Saturday night at several homes in the village of Clinton.

English says the students “took over the village” while roaming the streets and spilling onto the lawns of neighboring homes. He says two town officers and a state trooper brought the situation under control…

until we found this one in the Washington Free Beacon.

Plastered Pig Picks Fight with Cow



Posted on September 12, 2013 at 08:35AM by Registered Commenterhb | Comments1 Comment

Update: after 31 years


” Unfortuantely, we did not meet our alumni participation goal of 50 percent.”


Posted on July 26, 2013 at 09:08AM by Registered Commenterhb | Comments2 Comments

AHI’s Cheeseman Awarded Wade Scholarship by Vanderbilt Law School

Congratulations to Mr. Cheeseman.

AHI’s Cheeseman Awarded Wade Scholarship by Vanderbilt Law School

Readers may revisit his letter published previously on this site about the state of academics and administration at Hamilton College from the student’s perspective:

So utterly warped that evidence is irrelevant to his position

You won’ find it in the alumni news letter.

Posted on July 20, 2013 at 01:43PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

What Does It Mean to Be American?

The monologue at Hamilton College: your tuition dollars and donations at work.


The panelists came from diverse backgrounds representing North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa, ensuring that each individual would bring a unique set of experiences to the table. The hosts were Gretha Suarez ’15 and Carol Antunez ’15.  Panelists included Ming-De Xu,  East Asian Languages & Literatures (Chinese); Juana Sabadell-Nieto, Hispanic studies, Nigel Westmaas, Africana Studies; Alan Cafruny, the Henry Platt Bristol Professor of International Affairs; Amit Taneja, director of the Days-Massolo Center; Janet Turvey, assistant to the chief diversity officer; Fidaa Abuassi, Fulbright FLTA Fellow; and Sadiq Abubakar ’15. 

No panelist identified him or herself as fully American. Rather, each spoke to their experiences with American people, and the extent to which they felt they had adopted the U.S. culture. Cafruny, the only “natural born U.S. citizen” on the panel expressed discomfort with the idea of nationalism as it relates to any country and prefers to represent himself as a global citizen.

Comparative quality is always of interest. See the link to  the Alexander Hamilton’s recent colloquium Samuel Huntington and the Clash of Civilizations.  Note the speakers of national prominence.

For a stark contrast, consider the speech by a Hamilton student and AHI fellow, Deal Ball, which nearly upstaged the keynote speaker, Dr. James Kurth, Claude Smith Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College and one of Samuel Huntington’s former students.

After that brief respite, and as they might say in Eduland TV, we return you now to our normal programming. For the students, parents, and alumni of Hamilton that would be summarized by, well … read the article.


Note: if you have problems getting to the article What Does it Mean to be an American? let us know, and we’ll get you a copy. 



Posted on May 2, 2013 at 07:42AM by Registered Commenterhb | Comments1 Comment

Sound familiar?

Click below to watch the launch of the NAS report What Does Bowdoin Teach? in New York City on April 3, 2013, hosted by the Manhattan Institute. Bill Bennett was the keynote speaker.


Posted on April 9, 2013 at 02:17PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

A confession of failure

Posted on April 6, 2013 at 12:02PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment